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Archive for the ‘Jesus Christ’ Category

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In the process of looking through a box of papers (I was trying to fond something to use in one of my classes), I ran across an article by Wayne Mack called “The Bible’s Answer to the Question: “What is A Christian?”

In short, here is his answer:

  • The Bible declares that a Christian is a person who has been radically changed by the power of God.
  • The Bible declares that a Christian is a person who has become and is becoming increasingly aware of his own unworthiness in the sight of God.
  • The Bible declares that a Christian is a person who believes that Jesus Christ is God manifested in the flesh and the only Savior and substitute of sinners.
  • The Bible declares that a Christian is a person who has repented of his sins and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Mack’s use of Scripture in answering the question is especially important. If we were to ask ten people “What is a Christian?”, we’d most likely get five or six different answers, he says. The only answer that ultimately matters is God’s, and we find it in His Word.

So, using the Bible’s definition, are you a Christian?

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I had the privilege this morning of hearing Pastor Mitch Lamotte preach on 1 John 1:1-10.  Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: Faith in Jesus Christ produces fellowship with God and forgiveness from sin.

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Open-my-eyes

“Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law” (Psalm 119:18).

The psalmist asks God to open His eyes (which only He can) so that he might see the wonderful, or wondrous, things that are contained within His law.

For those with eyes whom God has graciously and sovereignly opened, we see His power, sovereignty, holiness, mercy,  justice, and goodness to name just a few. We hear His promises and see them fulfilled. All of them are wonderful and wondrous.

But it’s possible that the most wonderful thing we behold – not spelled out specifically in chapter and verse, but clearly taught by the whole of Scripture – is the truth of God’s covenant with man.

  1. The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto Him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of Him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary on condescension on God’s part, which He has been pleased to express by way of covenant.
  2. The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam; and to him in his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.
  3. Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein He freely offers sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life His Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe.

(Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 7, paragraphs 1-3)

One of the most wondrous things in God’s Word is His gracious condescension to save a people for Himself through His Son Jesus Christ, and He does that by means of His covenant. We don’t deserve it. We haven’t, and could never, earn it through our own efforts. We deserve the opposite of what God gives. Praise God for His grace!

May God open our eyes that we might see His covenants – a wondrous thing!

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heidelberg

Contemporary Evangelicals need to rediscover the wisdom of the catechisms which were written during the Reformation. The theology found in them is rich, pastoral, and thoroughly biblical. As a church, we’re poorer because of our neglect of them. Here is a little bit of that wisdom:

Question #60

Q – How are you right before God?

A – Only by a true faith in Jesus Christ;

so that, though my conscience accuse me, that I have grossly transgressed all the commandments of God, and kept none of them,

and am still inclined to all evil;

notwithstanding, God, without any merit of mine,

but only of mere grace,

grants and imputes to me, the perfect satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ,

even so, as if I never had had, nor committed any sin: yea, as if I had fully accomplished all that obedience which Christ has accomplished for me;

inasmuch as I embrace such benefit with a believing heart.

“How can I be right before God?” is the most important that anyone will ever ask. Our destinies depend upon it, and the Heidelberg Catechism gives us a brief answer of what is found in God’s Word, the Bible.

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Grace – God’s unmerited and undeserved favor – is amazing in more ways than we normally think. Titus 2:11-14 illustrates it: For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” 

“The grace of God has appeared” (verse 11) in the person of Jesus Christ. That grace brought “salvation.” God saves us by His grace and we praise Him for it! He opened our eyes when we were spiritually blind; He opened our spiritually deaf ears; and He gave us a heart of flesh in exchange for the heart of stone each of us have by nature – and He did all of this by His grace! We didn’t deserve it, couldn’t earn it, and, in fact, deserve the exact opposite.

Everyone who has repented of their sin and has believed in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation did so solely because of God’s grace. We’ve been redeemed by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. But does that give us a “get out of jail card free card” with respect to our behavior and conduct as a Christian? Can we live any way we want because we’re saved by grace?

No, it doesn’t and no, we can’t! Still on the subject of “the grace of God” from verse 11, verse 12 begins with the phrase “instructing us.” The grace of God not only saves us, but instructs us (or teaches, disciplines, trains us). To what end? Grace instructs us “to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.” In other words, grace doesn’t softly whisper in your ear to go ahead and indulge yourself because God doesn’t really care anymore; rather grace teaches us, trains us, and disciplines us to say no to ungodliness and yes to godliness. While we’re at it, we await the second coming of “our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (verse 13), who “redeemed us from every lawless deed” on the negative side, and is purifying “for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (verse 14). By His grace, God has redeemed us “from every lawless deed” and “for good deeds.” God is just as concerned with our birth (justification) as He is with our growth (sanctification).

God’s grace is truly amazing – through it we’re saved, taught, empowered, and changed!

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Ro8.34

“Encourage one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13)

It’s wonderful to hear that someone is praying for you. Sometimes you can almost feel it. Their willingness to go before the throne of God on your behalf is a tremendous blessing. It means something when we pray for each other.

But there’s Someone else who’s praying for us, too – the Lord Jesus Christ. In his epistle to the Christians in Rome, the apostle Paul said, Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;  who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us” (Rom. 8:33-34). 

If you belong to Jesus Christ, you can be confident that He’s praying for you (see also Hebrews 7:25; John 17:20-26 and 1 John 2:1), just as He prayed for His disciples (Luke 22:31-32; 23:34; John 14:16; 17:6-19). Better than anyone, He knows precisely what and when to pray. He knows when we’re tempted and what it is that tempts us. He knows when we need strength or comfort or exhortation. He also knows His plan and purpose for us, meaning that He knows what we really need (not always what we think we need).

How wonderful is it to know Jesus is praying for you? How much of a blessing is it? It should be encouraging to us, to say the least! Knowing we’re being prayed for by our brothers and sisters in Christ and by Christ Himself gives us both confidence and hope.

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open-Bible

How do we know what’s right and wrong? How do we know that abortion is wrong? How do we know that all human beings have dignity, value, and worth? How do we know that there are two sexes – male and female – which are assigned to us by God at our conception? How do we know the true spiritual condition of mankind (lost, sinful, and fallen)? How do we know how we can be right with God?

There are a number of answers, and almost all of them are wrong. Human reason and logic can’t give us the answers. Neither can intuition, personal experience, or tradition. As Christians, we rely on revelation. God has revealed Himself to us and He has spoken to us in His Word. The reason we know anything, and can know anything, is because God has revealed it to us.

When we think about any issue or question, whether inside the church or not, our first question needs to be “What does the Scripture say?” In other words, we need to ask what God thinks about it. This ought to be our first instinct, not our last. God’s Word – what He has to say – is authoritative in every area of life. That instinct, however, is in short supply in today’s church. We seem to take our cues from just about any other source than God and His Word.

It ought not be so, as illustrated by the following two passages. The apostle Paul has been arguing in the early chapters of the book of Romans that everyone is sinful and, therefore, deserving of God’s wrath (1:18-3:20). He then proclaims that justification by faith alone is the answer to the question of how sinful man can be right with a holy God (3:21-31). In 4:1, he says, in effect, “What about Abraham? How was he justified?” In order to give his answer, he appeals to Scripture, when he says, “What does the Scripture say?” (4:3). A quotation from Genesis 15:6 follows: “Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Paul cites Scripture to make his case and bring the discussion to an end – the matter is settled.

The second passage is Matthew 19:3-9. Some Pharisees challenged Jesus about whether or not a man could divorce his wife. Instead of quoting an influential rabbi or two, Jesus went straight to the Scripture to give the authoritative answer. He said, “Have you not read?” in verse 4. In other words, “What does the Scripture say?” The Lord Jesus asked this question many times during His ministry. He continually appealed to God’s Word as the final authority in all matters.

The church needs to remember and recover this crucial principle. We know what’s right and wrong, what’s true and false, because we read it in God’s Word – because God says so. There’s nothing wrong with believing and saying that. In fact, if we’re going to be faithful Christians, that’s exactly what we’ll do.

 

 

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